Bryant is the Next Return, Scoring Change Dings Mills, Surprise TJS, Bullpen Strategy, and Other Cubs Bullets

Last night was the first NFL game of my return to fantasy football after a decade-long hiatus, and I had just one player going: Amari Cooper. Dude went out and put up 139 yards on 13 catches and caught two touchdowns. My first game back. I’m sure it will go like this every time for all of my players now, and fantasy is always easy and never frustrating.

•   Kris Bryant returns to Wrigley Field today with the Giants, and although he says he always suspected the trade was coming, he still didn’t quite have a chance to do the kind of goodbye he wanted (Cubs.com):

“I felt like the trade was going to happen eventually,” Bryant said. “From the very beginning of the season, there was a lot of talk of it. And it finally happened, and obviously, being on the road, I had to get here and there was a lot of stuff going on. I didn’t really get that closure, so it is nice to go back so quickly and kind of say bye to some of the people that I didn’t get to say bye to. The workers, the staff at the field, the security. The people that made mine and my family’s lives so much easier over the years. Those are probably the people that are more important to say thank you to because they don’t get the recognition that they deserve.”

•   The fans also didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. If you’ll recall, that final game at Wrigley Field, the day before the Trade Deadline, saw both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo sitting. Neither got a “final at bat,” where we could’ve sent them off (just in case) with a standing ovation. Bryant will get that today. It’ll be the return hug he never got.

•   The question is who will leave some kind of joke on the field for Bryant, as he did for Kyle Schwarber – remember the pile of candy in left field? – when Schwarber returned to Wrigley. And what will they leave? Can of Red Bull? A sparkler? Bar of soap for his consistently dirty mouth?

•   I don’t think this is right:

•   I am not trying to pin an unfair error on Wisdom, and I’ll concede that the ball was knuckling a bit … but it was right to him. That’s a play that “should” be made, and thus, it not being made, is an error. If I’m going to go back a week and change a call like that, it would have to be WAY more definitive. Sorry about the three additional earned runs, Alec Mills. His ERA jumps from 4.09 to 4.35 because of that week-later scoring decision. That sucks. A reminder that, of course, ERA has its deficiencies as a stat.

•   It’s an uncommon thing, but it does happen and it’s kinda the nightmare scenario: a pitcher goes in for a relatively minor elbow procedure, but when in there, the surgeon discovers that the UCL has more damage than expected, and proceeds with Tommy John surgery. It is, of course, discussed with the patient in advance as a possibility – sometimes you don’t know until you’re in there just how much work will be required – but we outsiders don’t always know what could happen, for obvious reasons. That’s the story of Yankees reliever Zack Britton, who was going under the knife to have some bone chips removed, and it turned out it was discovered he needed Tommy John surgery. The 33-year-old lefty had struggled badly this year, but thanks to a unique contract, the Yankees had to pick up his 2022 option last year (when he was pitching great), so he’s already set to make $14 million next year while rehabbing. Good get for him! He will thereafter hit free agency as a freshly-rehabbed 34-year-old coming off Tommy John, so his market will be very interesting.

•   It’s been a tough year overall for Cory Abbott, but he is still striking a ton of guys out and threw a gem last night:

•   Abbott, 25, who wasn’t able to translate some good pitch-movement and funky arm action into success at the big league level yet, has posted a 6.40 ERA at Iowa, thanks primarily to far too many homers and far too many walks. The strikeouts are great, but it won’t play if he’s giving up so many free passes and hard contact. I wonder if he’s going to be a tough 40-man retention decision if things get really crowded.

•   Everyone will continue to try to copy the Rays’ bullpen strategy, and, as we’ve seen the Cubs do better and better each year, it’s going start by requiring a combination of a CRAPLOAD of internally-developed, optionable relievers, as well as a large volume of smartly reclaimed players from other organizations. The Cubs are kinda there. But then the next step is getting even more of them, deploying the “Injured List” aggressively, and then optimizing usage and match-ups better than any other organization (as Kevin Goldstein writes). You do all that, and then you can succeed without a dominant starting rotation. See, how simple is it?

•   Don’t forget to take advantage if you’re eligible – you can get a free NFL jersey and a $5,000 risk-free bet when you sign up for a new account at Caesar’s. We’ve been doing this sports betting thing a couple years now, and this is the best promo I’ve seen so far. The only caveat is that it’s eligible only in certain states, and Illinois doesn’t have mobile registration fully available right now. But if you’re in Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, or Virginia, JUMP ON IT.

•   This is extremely rare, as we typically use sinker and two-seamer interchangeably (for most pitchers, they would be the same pitch):

•   Stroman, 30, is putting together another great season (2.87 ERA over 163.0 IP, 3.35 FIP), and cannot be given a qualifying offer this offseason after already having received one from the Mets. Just sayin’.

•   Electric toothbrushes, bed coverings, and smart plugs are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   If you missed it in the early hours of the morning:

•   The Blackhawks should finally be getting a fully healthy and ready Kirby Dach.

•   Eli dug in at the back of the Bulls bench and on the rotation competition.

•   Eddie Goldman tweaked his knee and his status for Week 1 is in doubt, so that’s cool.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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